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Crown accepts $8.9 billion takeover offer from Blackstone

Crown Resorts has agreed to sell its casino and hotel empire to US private equity firm Blackstone for $8.9 billion.

In an ASX announcement, Crown’s chairman, Ziggy Switkowski said the board unanimously recommended Blackstone’s offer of $13.10 per share.

“The Crown board and management has consistently stated it is committed to maximising value for Crown shareholders,” Switkowski said.

“Nevertheless, uncertainty remains and having regard to those circumstances and the underlying value of Crown we believe the Blackstone Transaction represents an attractive outcome for shareholders.”

The agreement would net James Packer a $3.26 billion payday and end his rule over the Australian casino industry.

If approved Crown will cease trading on the ASX and the US equity firm will take over its properties in Melbourne, Perth, and a new $2.2 billion hotel and casino in Barangaroo.

“The announcement today represents a compelling offer for Crown’s shareholders to consider,” said Crown’s chief executive officer Steve McCann said in a statement.

“The price appropriately reflects the value of Crown’s world-class assets and global reputation for premium service and experiences.”

Blackstone still needs clearance in each state Crown operates.

The proposed acquisition comes as Crown’s gambling licence for its new Sydney venue remains suspended after a public inquiry in 2021. The inquiry found that the company was unfit to run a casino after finding evidence it had been infiltrated by money launderers and criminal syndicates.

Blackstone managing director Chris Tynan said the firm was looking forward to finalising the transaction.

“Crown plays a pivotal role in Australia’s economy,” Tynan said.

“We are excited to bring our local expertise and global hospitality and gaming experience to contribute to Australia’s post-pandemic recovery and position Crown for future growth.”

Blackstone has extensive casino industry assets across the world. This includes the Bellagio, MGM Grand, and also owns the Spanish group Cirsa, which has 147 casinos through Spain, Morocco and Latin America.

Blackstone owns a 9.9 per cent stake in Crown and has been approaching the company for almost a year.

The US equity firm made its first takeover offer at $11.85 per share in March 2021 and raised that three times until finally landing at $13.10 in January.

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